Dec 152018

Based on the Book Taking the War Out of Our Words by Sharon Ellison
Workshop Presentations by Hilary Mullins

In this five-session class, I teach the concepts and techniques of nondefensive communication using a mix of lecture, discussion, and take-home exercises. Rather than projecting slides, I use an easel or white board, mixing words and simple drawings in the manner of a graphic facilitator. I also use short 4-page comics in class that students then take home for review and practice.

SESSION ONE: Looking at the War Within

In this introductory session, we look at how our inherent fight, flight or freeze system leads us to react to conflict with the four basic techniques used in battle. We will also learn to spot six common characteristic defensive strategies that are so typically engrained we mistake them for our personalities.

SESSION TWO: Taking the War Out of Our Questions

In this session, we first identify commonly used defensive questions, which, by their very structure, make others defensive in turn. Then we learn nondefensive questions that allow us to simply ask for information instead, transforming potentially defensive interactions into constructive exchanges.

SESSION THREE: Taking the War Out of Our Statements

In this session, we’ll first learn how to identify when we are making defensive assertions, imposing our opinions as facts. Then we will learn how to make nondefensive statements, using a structure that allows us to express our thoughts and feelings clearly, giving them authentic power.

SESSION FOUR: Taking the War Out of Our Predictions

Setting limits is an important part of getting along. However, when we try to do it, we often collapse into making defensive, threatening predictions instead, e.g.: ‘If you don’t do x, I’ll do y!’ This class presents a process that allows us to avoid this kind of manipulation, instead thinking through and setting our limits clearly and firmly, giving those we deal with a clear picture of what they can expect from us.

SESSION FIVE:  Putting it All Together: Nondefensive Communication for the Road

In the final session, we practice applying non-defensive questions, statements and predictions to real life situations. Also, because changing our deeply-rooted defensive habits takes repetition over time, we will learn ways to keep practicing nondefensive communication so we can shift the insights of the class into lasting skills.


Class to start in MARCH if minimum class size is met (10 people).

Contact for more info or to sign up.


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